All posts by Chris Miller -

Founder and Creator of Ex Newspaper Photographer and Commercial Photographer for more than 40 years.

kai Iwi Rally and Trounson Kauris

We are  still waiting for a tenant for the house but it has only been just over a week. Rome wasn’t built in a day as they say.

We’re really looking forward to heading south in a couple of weeks time.  Here’s another great recent trip in the meantime.

All the Vans at the Lakes
All the Vans at the Lakes
At Kaiwi Lakes Rally
At Kaiwi Lakes Rally

Late in July, we arranged to meet friends at a NZMCA rally being held at kai Iwi lakes .. somewhere I’ve have never been to before north of Dargaville on the coast. We left Auckland on a Saturday morning and arrived there just after midday.. its a good 2.5 – 3 hr run.

There were a lot of vans and a lot more of them were European Motorhomes than the traditional bus conversions that we’ve seen at these events.  A really interesting place and another well organised event by the Northland NZMCA crew. Along with meeting our friends from Snells Beach, we met many Dethleffs van owners, some who have travelled quite some distance to be part of the fun.
Remember to click on the images to enlarge them.

One of the biggest in the park
One of the biggest in the park
Lots of Ferns

There aren’t many DOC camps around the Auckland region and on the way home, we were keen to try the Trounson Kauri park which is just up the road (15k’s or so) towards Waipoua Forest . .. somewhere else we’d never been to.

All parked up
All parked up

After plugging in to the power and settling down, we were off to explore the park. It is really nicely set up  .. a boardwalk stretches through the whole  length of the  forest.  Amazing huge Kauri Trees mixed with new growth.. It’s very clean and an easy 1/2 hour walk through the whole park.  Well worth doing.

And I took one of her :-)
And I took one of her 🙂
Just to prove that I did the walk, Fiona took this cell phone picky.
Just to prove that I did the walk, Fiona took this cell phone piccy

We got back to the van  and settled down in front of the heater to warm up with a glass of something cold .. This must be one of the few DOC parks with power. Several vans of nice French tourists arrived just before dark which was good.
There is also a building with a hot shower and kitchen facilities and nice clean toilets.
The walk was fantastic and its a great spot for a night in your Motorhome.

During the walk
During the walk

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Firth Tower Museum

The Firth Tower and House. The original was burnt down in 1902
The Firth Tower and House. The original was burnt down in 1902

3k’s or so outside of Matamata is the Firth Tower Museum.
Its an amazing collection of original buildings in the grounds of what used to be a farm for the Firth family in Auckland to feed the flour mill.  It later became the base for a well known Waikato family to farm.
The original farmhouse was built with the tower in the later 1800’s but the farmhouse burnt down in 1902 and was replaced  then by the current house. It was then owned by the McCaw family.
Don’t forget you can click on the images to enlarge them

In each of the buildings there is a theme of history, Agriculture, Transport, Medical, local war involvement, and there is even two carriages with the History of the Kaimai tunnel as well.
The volunteers who staff it were all wearing historical gear to add to the feel of the place.  When  we visited, there was school trip of local primary school kids and they all got dressed up in historical clothing to add to the occasion.

Dusk, Glass of Red in one hand, camera in the other!
Dusk with The Tower

For $10 you can stay the night with power or free parking without power. One of the nice things about being on the road is discovering new places to stay and how nice they can be and often it is the least expensive that are the nicest places to stay… this was one of those times.   A great way to spend the day and it really is a well setup museum.

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Middle Earth (Matamata)

Middle earth
The Information Centre or I site

After Te Aroha, we headed to Matamata to see the Firth Tower Museum complex and Madam was keen for some retail therapy.

Usually, I’m passing through Matamata and only really stop at the KFC shop on the way to Rotorua or a cup of tea on the way back so it was nice to actually stop and check it out properly.
Its an amazing little town. We arrived early around 10am and went for a walk through the town, stopping for a cuppa in an Italian coffee shop as you do in Matamata!
Getting to the end of the main strip, there was this amazing I site, all done up as one of the Lord of the Ring buildings, complete with a thatched roof. Now that we’ve been in and got all the brochures, we both decided that we would save the tour to the Film set for another time.
Click on the images to enlarge

Madam in front of the Isite
Madam in front of the Isite

After getting some food for tea from various shops, we decided to head for the Firth Tower Museum, where we would probably stay the night.. More on that tomorrow.

The Ardmore haircut & Te Aroha

Saturday was a big day… starting with launching my old ex Whalechaser now being looked after by my sons after they’ve literally repainted the whole thing.
Click on the photos to enlarge

Rorqual being launched
Rorqual being launched

After parking her in the berth, we were off in Rafe to the Grandkids in Ardmore to babysit. I’m always very careful going up their 1/2 k odd long driveway as the trees and shrubs at the gateway lining it grow like weeds and reach out to try and scratch Rafe. Alex and Sarah had given them a good haircut so all good.

Our spot in the corner
Our spot in the corner
The Tree Haircut
The Tree Haircut

After a good night parked in the corner,  we woke up to the family tradition on Fathers Day of chocolate fish.. yum first thing in the morning 🙂
After a cup of coffee and breakfast,  we both felt that a hot swim might be the order of the day and neither of us being ready to go home,  so we thought a decent drive, Te Aroha hot pools, 120 odd K away.

Rather than go the way we always go, via Maugataroto, we thought we’d try down State Highway 1 on the motorway and turn off at Ohinewai through to Tahuna. What a great run too apart from taking a wrong turn and adding 15 minutes or so to the trip.. no harm done.
Checking in to the Te Aroha Holiday Park, just on the South Side of the Town itself was easy. $34 for the two of us with the NZMCA discount.. what a classic place. All the cabins are ex workingmens huts. In really good nick too.

Click on the photos to Enlarge

Reading through Rankers and Wikicamps, some of the comments are awful and the place didn’t deserve the bad rap that it had. One of the comments was that the hot pools didn’t have any water in them, .. my first question when I checked in .. after that it was all good.
There was a really nice pool complex too. The pools weren’t ready until after 6 and it was dark by then so no photos.
Huge parking spaces and nicely separated off by hedges and plants. Well placed and easy to get to Dump Station too. A nice place to stay.

Amazing Pop Out Caravan

This gives pop outs a whole new meaning 🙂

Check out this new French caravan and it goes sideways..  and its only 1000kgs to tow!

All popped out
All popped out


Funky Interior
Funky Interior

Fun & Games at Bland Bay

It was this time a year ago that we went to our first ever NZMCA rally in Northland. A really nice bunch of people and there were in excess of 90 Motorhomes in attendance, quite a few of them from Auckland.

A magic spot just south of the Bay of Islands right on the water.  It was only our 5th or 6th trip away in a relatively new machine so we were still very much finding our way so when the North Easterly gusts of 30-40 knots odd rolled in around 11pm and the van started rocking, it was a bit interesting 🙂

We arrived around 2pm on the Saturday afternoon. Many of them had arrived the previous day so all the primo waterfront spots were all taken.. that was before we found out about the wind, then we were quite relieved to be a row back!

The Games started soon after we arrived.. lots of fun and good to see everyone having a good laugh.

We met Rob & Helen  who have become good friends since and we spent the the next night with them in the Russell RSA carpark. The following night we spent at Uretiti Doc park another magic place in the world.

Uretiti Doc park with the Awning out
Uretiti Doc park with the Awning out

If I remember correctly, that was the first time we used the awning and the BBQ gas jack.. funny what you remember.. a great weekend away.

Big Mommas Great Adventure

Somewhere in Portugal .. pic by Eric

I’ve been following Eric and Shazza’s adventures via their blog for more than a year now and they’ve been an inspiration for this blog and for fulltiming here in NZ.  Eric writes most of the blog and takes the pictures and is a real character.

They’ve got an 9m odd Autotrail Commanche  which is very comfortable and have had some interesting moments with small streets… well worth a read.

Eric and Shazza's Autotrail, somewhere in Portugal
Eric and Shazza’s Autotrail, somewhere in Portugal – Pic by Eric

Easy Clothesline

Ready for the towels
Ready for the towels
Ready for the road
Ready for the road

Today I installed a clever Fiamma clothesline that integrates with the bike rack we had installed a week or so ago. The nice part about it is it stays on the back, whether you’ve got bikes or not. It simply unfolds.

Perfect for the towels after a shower or the tea towels and flips out in seconds.

Wow .. How is that Black!

Tough painting on your knees amongst the plants. The base of the steps look great.

The black really looks good … More rent ?  🙂

We’re online !

We had the property manager today to list the house for renting. I’ve been busy painting trellis by brush ! .. The spray gun started to paint things I didn’t want painting so it ended up in the big green bin……

Why are we doing all this ? … To hit the road fulltime.. so  Bugger it, We are off

We’ve done the sums and by renting the house out, along with some other income, we can live very happily on the road….

Sir Rafe on the park we made by chopping down an oak tree and installing a gate.
Rafe on the park we made by chopping down an oak tree and installing a gate.